Will Your Airline Make You Buy An Extra Seat On The Plane? List of Airlines' Chubby People Policies

Updated: Feb 9


Photo by JC Gellidon

By Jeff Jenkins


Let’s start by saying I’ve never looked at majority of these Customer of Size (COS) policies up until I wrote this post but, I’m so glad I did!


Through the years, it seems like airlines have noticed that they can make more money if they cram a larger number of people on each flight.


That is why, through the years, sitting space has been shrinking further, and size policies have become stricter—if they want to have more people per flight, they have to jam pack more seats into these planes.


I realized that the Chubby Diaries Community didn’t have a "Customer of Size resource.” So we gathered all these policies in one place so you don’t have to scour the internet for them!


I am honored that I can share all of the major US airlines' passenger of size policies to the community! Southwest totally will surprise you!


Alaska


Alaska requires you to purchase "an additional seat for any customer who cannot comfortably fit within one seat with the armrests in the down position. The armrest is considered to be the definitive boundary between seats; width between the armrests typically measures 17 inches for coach and 21 inches for First Class.” The Airline also mentions "After you have completed travel, if all Alaska Airlines flights in each direction departed with an open seat available, you will be eligible for a refund of the second seat."


Allegiant


Allegiant says "The airline seats measure 17.8" from inside of armrest to inside of armrest. Passengers who are unable to lower the armrest and/or compromise any portion of adjacent seat(s) should purchase an additional ticket during the initial reservation. Two seats will be pre-assigned (at no additional charge) in order to ensure the passenger of size has two seats side-by-side."


American


American says “if a customer’s body extends more than 1 inch beyond the outermost edge of the armrest and a seat belt extension is needed, another seat is required.” In addition they mention:

  • When you call to book, Reservations will make sure you get 2 adjacent seats at the same rate.

  • If you didn’t book an extra seat in advance, ask an airport agent to find out if 2 adjacent seats are available.

  • You may be offered a seat in a higher class of service that may provide more space; in this case, you’ll be responsible for the fare difference.

  • If accommodations can’t be made on your original flight, you can buy seats on a different flight at the same price as your original seats.

Delta


Delta says "customers who need extra space outside the standard Economy Seat — which features 31-32” of legroom with a 17.2” width — you can ask to be reseated next to an empty seat or pay to upgrade to First/Business class."


Frontier


Frontier says “customers who are unable to lower both armrests and/or who compromise any portion of adjacent seat or aisle should book two seats prior to travel."


Hawaiian

It is cool to see that Hawaiian Airlines has an extra inch over most airline seats! Here is what Hawaiian says "Most of our seats are 18 inches wide. If you are unable to sit comfortably in your seat with the armrests lowered, we will try to find a suitable alternative."


Jetblue (Updated)


Check out Jetblue Extra Space policies...


Southwest


Southwest, has my heart and they might have yours too! Southwest is the only airline that won’t penalize you for being a person of size, let me explain!


Southwest encourages you to purchase an extra seat in advance to guarantee that sufficient space will be available on their flight; they also promise to refund all extra seat purchases, even if the flight is fully booked. People can also wait until the day of their flight to speak with a customer service person at the gate, who will give them a complimentary additional seat if it’s available.


Spirit


Spirit "requires a guest of size who encroaches on an adjacent seat area and/or is unable to sit in a single seat with the armrests lowered; to purchase an additional seat."


United


United’s policy;

"A customer is required to purchase an additional seat or upgrade if they do not meet one of the following criteria:

  • The customer must be able to properly attach, buckle and wear the seat belt, with one extension if necessary, whenever the seatbelt sign is illuminated or as instructed by a crew member.

  • The customer must be able to remain seated with the seat armrest(s) down for the entirety of the flight.

  • The customer must not significantly encroach upon the adjacent seating space. See our seat maps."

I really hope that this was informative and encouraging.

Pro tip: Majority of the flights I’ve flown usually have an extra seat or two open. If you are nice to the gate agents and flight attendants they will totally try to make your flight more comfortable!


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